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Residents and Revolutionary Grid Control Find Home in Rural Renewable Energy District (Text Version)

NREL's algorithms for autonomous energy grids make real-world debut in Basalt Vista, a net-zero development in rural Colorado. As the project scales up—from a few homes, to a few dozen—NREL's autonomous energy grids could be the solution to realizing highly renewable energy systems.

Video opens with an aerial shot of the Basalt Vista development, which is under construction.

Chris Bilby, Research & Programs Engineer at Holy Cross Energy appears onscreen.

We are here on-site at Basalt Vista in Basalt, Colorado, which is a Net-Zero affordable housing community built for our teachers and our county workers to live in.

Panning shot of the Basalt landscape. 

Basalt is near Aspen and Snowmass…It's a fairly wealthy resort community.

Bryan Hannegan, President & CEO of Holy Cross Energy appears on-screen.

These teachers make $50,000-$55,000 a year. 

Slow zoom in on a home in the Basalt Vista development. 

There's no way they can afford to own a home in this area. Our kids deserve great teachers and this is a way to recruit them and keep them here.

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

It came out of this idea of how to build a house that's also a microgrid.

Shot of a Basalt Vista home under construction. 

It's easy to build a cheap home. It's hard to build an efficient home, not efficient only to buy, but efficient to live in. Maybe the best approach is to build homes

Shot of an energy-efficient water heater. 

with dexterity that are flexible. To have a house that is Net-Zero energy,

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

producing as much energy it's consuming,

Various shots of residential home energy components/controllers.

to know when to use power and when not to use power, or have the ability to put storage inside your house, it really flips the switch

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

on how those electrical lines are used.

Exterior shot of Holy Cross Energy administrative building. 

Holy Cross Energy was very unique in that it deployed advanced metering infrastructure very early on.

Shot of a Holy Cross Energy employee working in a control room. 

In 2015, we did a full rollout and at that point, we started gathering data. Unless you have the talent in-house to figure out what to do with the data,

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

it's just data, sitting on a server.

Aerial shot of the Basalt Vista development, under construction. 

Our hope with Basalt Vista was to understand how distributed energy resources will become a part of our energy system going forward,

Bryan Hannegan appears onscreen. 

but no utility really likes to experiment with its customers.

Aerial shot of NREL’s campus. 

NREL was chosen for this project because of the unique capabilities, the Energy Systems Integration Facility, a little distribution grid in a box, if you will.

Shot of two NREL researchers in the Systems Performance Laboratory, looking at data on a screen.

It helps us develop and test the tools that we're gonna need, the algorithms, the controls model and simulate advanced grids with distributed resources connected to them.

Bryan Hannegan appears onscreen. 

It gave us confidence that what we saw in the laboratory, we would actually see in the field

Shot of Holy Cross Energy staff working in a control room. 

and that took all the risk out of the equation for us, which is important for utilities when they're doing R&D.

Shot of several NREL researchers working in the ESIF.

The key piece of technology NREL's bringing to this project is the software portion,

David Shih, Project Manager at NREL, appears onscreen. 

the algorithm that integrates it all together and optimizes how all these different resources are balanced.

Shot of two NREL researchers in the Systems Performance Laboratory, looking at data on a screen. 

Testing is done in computer-only simulations,

David Shih appears onscreen. 

but what this facility at NREL is really known for

Two NREL researchers walk through the Systems Performance Laboratory, looking at a clipboard.

is putting that as close to the real world as you possibly can before actually putting it into a customer's home.

Fei Ding, Project Lead & Senior Engineer at NREL, appears onscreen. 

We are using the advanced distribution management system test bed here

NREL researchers are discussing research results in an ESIF laboratory. 

to fully validate the technology. NREL has already proved that this technology can be applied to millions of homes

Shot of Holy Cross Energy signage with mountains in the background. 

through the simulation work. The work that collaborated with Holy Cross

Shot of Holy Cross Energy staff working in a control room.

can be also applied to other cooperatives and utilities. 

Chris Bilby on a conference call: Can we do this with a load controller? 

[on the phone] Yes, that can minimize the impact. 

Over-the-shoulder shot of Chris Bilby looking at an on-screen display in the control room. 

Holy Cross has an ambitious goal of the renewable energy integration in their system.

Fei Ding appears onscreen.

This will provide a national example and also, provide a national impact for the other utility companies.

Shot of a Basalt Vista home with a “Sold” sign on the front lawn. 

For us, it was to build a community that was resilient and reliable and self-sustaining, but really, where NREL came into play

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

was they were able to take that model

Multiple shots of two NREL researchers looking at data on screens in a laboratory. 

and scale it and then run that in their simulation of what would it look like if we had 160 Basalt Vistas out there, and then let's see what grid impacts we would have in a year.

Chris Bilby appears onscreen. 

When you have a laboratory like NREL has,

Shot of NREL researcher turning on lights in the Systems Performance Laboratory. 

it doesn't take you a year to do that analysis; you can do that analysis in three or four days.

Aerial shot of a Basalt Vista home under construction. 

This is about energy system design

Bryan Hannegan appears onscreen. 

and gettin' it right.

Close-up of a hand plugging in an electric vehicle. 

It's about creating clean energy at a pace and a scale that matters.

Aerial shot of a Basalt Vista home with a home under construction in the background.

Net-Zero all electric communities are increasingly

Bryan Hannegan appears onscreen. 

gonna be part of the trend of the future. Others are beginning to say, "Well, how can we do this, too?"

Tracking shot through the Hole Cross Energy control room.

I think it's a real pleasure and an honor to be able to put one of the first stakes in the ground and say, "Yeah, you know what, this can be done and maybe we should do more of it."

Shot of a throw pillow that says, “Home Sweet Home”.

My hope for sustainable living

Shot of homeowner doing household chores in her Basalt Vista home.

and the building of this neighborhood is that it just brings more awareness to the need to start paying attention to our natural resources

Natasha Walker, Preschool Teacher and Basalt Vista Homeowner, appears onscreen.

and to be a part of something so grand, it just helps me be more true to what I teach.

Aerial shot flying over a Basalt Vista home, with mountains in the background. 

It's just an honor, it really is.

Video closes with the NREL logo and tagline, “Transforming ENERGY” against a black background.